Query concerning use of flockfile/funlockfile in stdio FILE related functions

Antony KING antony.king@st.com
Thu Sep 9 19:47:00 GMT 2004

Jeff Johnston wrote:
> Antony KING wrote:
>> Hello,
>> I have a query concerning the use of the flockfile/funlockfile 
>> functions  in the stdio sub-component of newlib. It relates to a 
>> requirement we have of being able to call the sprintf/sscanf class of 
>> functions from interrupt handlers in our RTOS.
>> One of the restrictions of interrupt handlers in our RTOS is that they 
>> cannot block on synchronisation objects which is unfortunate since the 
>> sprintf/sscanf class of objects implicitly use the locking API defined 
>> in sys/lock.h via flockfile/funlockfile (I have implemented the 
>> locking API using the synchronisation objects available in our RTOS).
> Anthony, in the sprintf/sscanf case, as you have noted, the lock object 
> is only known to the sprintf or sscanf functions (they are part of local 
> FILE objects).  Thus, there should never be a blocking situation which 
> technically meets the "letter of the law" stated above.  Is the 
> restriction more strict than you have noted?

No, except :-), that when the interrupt handlers are running we
deliberately set _REENT to NULL to simplify matters.

> I have noticed that the local FILE lock objects are not being 
> initialized which is an error :(.

Yes, so did I, and in my local development version of newlib I added the
initialisation and closure in order for sprintf et al to work when
called from task context. However, your suggestion of using __SSTR to
check whether locking should be applied or not means that the lock
object can be left uninitialised with the proviso that __SSTR is added
to the local FILE structures created by the sscanf/vsscanf functions as
you note below.

>> This restriction is not a problem when using FILE objects created via 
>> fopen et al since they normally refer to resources which require the 
>> proper thread protection afforded by the locking API. However for the 
>> sprintf/sscanf class of functions using the locking API is unnecessary 
>> since the FILE objects created by these functions for use by the 
>> "real" functions _vfprintf_r/__svfscanf_r should be inherently thread 
>> safe (as they are allocated off the stack).
>> It should therefore be possible to dynamically detect this scenario 
>> and not use the locking API and hence allow me to use the 
>> sprintf/sscanf functions from my interrupt handlers.
>> Ideally I would like to add a flag to the _flags field of the FILE 
>> structure to indicate whether a lock object is present or not but 
>> unfortunately there are no free bits left. Another possibility would 
>> have been to use the fact that the sprintf/sscanf fucntions set the 
>> _file field of the FILE structure to -1 but thus is not reliable since 
>> it can take the value of -1 in other instances.
>> One thought is to extend the locking API to to include "not 
>> initialised" initialiser APIs whose purpose is to allow the locking 
>> API acquire and release methods detect this state and ignore the 
>> lock/unlock requests. Its not very nice but would work without 
>> changing the layout of the FILE structure (by increasing the size of 
>> the _flags field from 16 bits to 32 bits). Also I am uncertain how 
>> this change to the locking API would impact other implementations 
>> (e.g. linux/cygwin).
> The locking API should not be changed.  It is easy enough to check for 
> the __SSTR flag to avoid locking.  This flag is set for all the string 
> printf operations but isn't currently used for the sscanf set.
> -- Jeff J.

Given the existence of __SSTR I agree with your sentiment (extending the
locking API was making the implementation a little ugly) and I am now
using this as a mechanism to disable locking in the sprintf/sscanf set
of functions. One other minor change I am also making is a result of
_REENT being set to NULL when running an interrupt handler; the
definition of the macro CHECK_INIT has been modified to check that
_REENT is not NULL before checking the initialisation of _REENT.

I am in the process of making the relevant changes to newlib at present
all seems fine. I will submit this as a patch against the my local
snapshot of the CVS repository once complete.



Antony King                        |
STMicroelectronics (R&D) Ltd.      |
Bristol, BS32 4SQ. United Kingdom. |

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